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Queen Book 
			on sale at Amazon.com

Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture
by Carol Queen

$14.95
ISBN 1573440736

available through Amazon.com

reviewed by Mary Anne Mohanraj

Carol Queen has a gift for revealing the appeal of sexuality. I know, you're probably thinking, well, thatisn't so hard. You already know that sex is fun, right? Fun and healthy and exciting and empowering...but if you're like most people (and like me), there are probably a couple of sexual activities that you react to more with an 'ick' than an affirming 'yum...' What's amazing about reading Queen's writing is that she makes it all sound good. Even if what she's describing isn't what I consider one of my particular kinks, hearing her talk about it makes me just a little more curious about it than I was before, or makes me want to watch it, or maybe even try a little.

For example, I've always considered myself more of a text than visual person. I read about sex to get off; I don't usually go watch it. But when Queen talks about watching porn, about watching seventeen different porn movies at once in a grad school class, she makes it sound really hot. "One scene after another caught my eye. I was surrounded by larger-than-life fucking, sucking, fisting -- a Great Wall of Sex....my clit was positively buzzing. Everything made me horny, even things I'd never seen before, even things I thought I'd never do. I was desperately thankful the lights were out." ("The Four-Foot Phallus"). Don't you want to know what she was doing with the lights out?

Or take orgies. Sure, I've always had more than a passing interest in group sex, as I imagine many people have -- but living in the plague years (her phrase) as we do, the idea of getting together with a bunch of strangers for sex evokes all sorts of fears, of both physical and emotional danger. I might fantasize about a heartfelt, sweat-dripping, multi-person fuckfest, but actually doing it...well, it sounded pretty dangerous, pretty scary. But listen to Queen describe attending her first mixed-gender, safe sex party: "I made a deal with myself: I would give myself permission to go and just watch, to leave if I felt too uncomfortable, to stay and play to my heart's content if my anxiety happened to ebb....I was actually feeling pretty petrified....Two hours later I was perched on a woman's knee, stroking one of her breasts while her male partner played with the other, her right hand on his cock and her left on someone else's...." ("Inside the Safe Sex Clubs") It just gets better from there. Where do I sign up?

Queen makes butch women sound utterly sexy (and I've always been much more attracted to androgynes or femmes). "I don't like smoking, but I'll put up with cigarette breath to watch a woman curl a lit butt into her palm like the Marlboro Man....worn Levi's and rolled T-shirt sleeves, a stance like James Dean hustling on Forty-Second Street, the kind of womanness that isn't taught in school." ("Why I Love Butch Women").

She talks about working in a peep show, and as a prostitute, and sounds totally charming and appealing as she does. She talks about being spanked, and loving it. She talks about being a female sexual submissive and a dominant political personality. She talks about the tradition of being a sacred whore, and she even manages to make pelvic exams sound attractive!

If I have any quibble with this book, it's a small one. My only complaint is that Queen is almost relentlessly sex positive, and that in itself is a little intimidating for someone like me. Oh, she certainly talks about her fears and hesitations, but you get the sense that she's conquered all of that, she's moved through it, she's past the great water and has safely landed on the other side, in a land of sexual triumph. And here I am in my small boat, and the waves sometimes seem very big (parental disapproval, societal disapproval, fear of losing my friends, my family, fear of the law...). It's very tempting to turn back, come back to the grey land, the safe spaces. I don't know if I have the strength to make it across.

Yet if that's a weakness of the book, that relentness assertion that sex is good, sex is fun, sex is healthy -- it's also its greatest strength. That's what makes it a beacon, a guidepost, a lighthouse leading us all to the other side. Writers like Carol Queen give us hope; show us that there are joyous possibilities far beyond those this sad society of ours publically acknowledges. Great writing, wonderful stories, and a sexy lady leading the way...maybe I'll make it there after all.

©1998 by Mary Anne Mohanraj

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